Automation in laboratories
The market continues to grow through technological advancements, improved diagnostic tools and treatment monitoring
Over the years, the evolution in the new healthcare marketplace has made India one of the fastest growing diagnostics market. Despite several economic and industry challenges, the In Vitro diagnostics market is growing robustly. In Vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests are done on samples such as blood, tissue, urine etc. collected from human body. The tests performed are used to monitor a person’s overall health, help diagnose, monitor, treat and cure diseases. The market continues to grow through technological advancements, improved diagnostic tools and treatment monitoring. IVD add great value in disease management and in prevention of diseases. Advanced Technologies, full automation and software with Artificial Intelligence is now required.
In today’s age laboratories are facing unrelenting pressure to produce faster turnaround time (TAT) while also reducing errors to improve patient care and therefore making the use of automation and robotics pervasive in clinical laboratories. The high-end automation in instruments and modular systems offer an array of features that are extremely user friendly. Most of these instruments can be integrated with IT to maximize the benefits of laboratory automation, which offer mechanized solutions in each phase of workflow in a lab i.e. pre-analytical phase, analytical phase and post-analytical phase. Advanced software available on many instruments can now decide which more tests can be done – Reflex Testing- to help Clinician to take correct decision.
The Indian IVD market has gone through a major paradigm shift on the technological front with availability of advanced methods for faster diagnostics which has given rise to a new era for technology. The emergence of new concepts like point of care testing, near patient testing, increased automation; hospital laboratory management and customer relationship management have revolutionized this segment and contributed towards precise and accurate diagnosis at faster rates. Automation in the pre-analytical phase offer error free operation in specimen labelling or barcoding, specimen separation and specimen transportation.
Total laboratory automation consists of a specimen sorter that can sort specimens by analytical needs and transport specimens requiring serum/ plasma/ blood testing to an automated centrifugation station for processing. Once the sample has been separated, the serum or plasma is further transported for sampling to various chemistry and immunoassay analyzers. The sorter can identify whole blood specimens and convey them to automated instruments for a complete blood count and other hematology testing. The remaining specimens are automatically sent to racks that are specific to each analytical rack. These specimens can then be transported manually and loaded into appropriate instruments. This is a modern laboratory automation that resembles a traditional assembly line such as that in manufacturing processes.
The analytical phase in laboratory has always witnessed advanced technology and improved automation in each segment of process of sample with high TAT. The hematology segment is increasingly gaining traction through the launch of technologically advanced products to support existing installed base and to address the needs of emerging markets like India. Modular track platform automation enables laboratory to improve utilization of lab resources, increase efficiency, accelerate processing, and achieve consistent TAT. Molecular diagnostics is witnessing high growth as it holds the key for faster confirmatory test for infectious diseases and through development of new virus identifications.
Availability of advanced technology in India will open a new era of neonatal screening to ensure healthy children which are brighter future of the society. Advances in automation in histopathology hold the key for faster reporting in a matter of few hours instead of days like before. Liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectrometry (MS) have become powerful two-dimensional (2D) hyphenated technologies for use in a wide assortment of analytical and bioanalytical techniques.
Technical advancements have led to the improvement of computer systems that provide labs with the ability to interpret, store and manipulate data. System interfaces allow information from the instrument to go directly to the hospital laboratory information system (LIS). Combination of High end automation with IT solution has significantly improved integration of laboratory work flow and facilitates communication between the laboratory and patients, laboratory and referring physicians.
The evolving healthcare market is changing the delivery of care and impacting how laboratories, clinicians, and hospitals supply these services. Automated laboratories have become widely acceptable technology that facilitates high quality, efficient, and patient-centric operation at lower costs. Technological advances will increase the number of laboratory unit ¬operations that can be either -partially or fully automated. For medical laboratories, this means relying more on those technologies that enable them to do more with less, and to do so with the highest possible quality.
Indian IVD market is highly fragmented, with the top participants MNCs controlling a major market share. Most of the products offered by these MNC’s are manufactured as per requirements of western countries and do not fulfill the requirements of our customers. With the government encouraging the policy of Make in India, it has opened a new era of manufacturing to address the local needs and foster technological advancements at higher pace. Joint ventures (JVs), mergers and acquisitions (M&A) will continue to be an important competitive strategy in India to access new technology, expand product offerings, or to increase market share.
Nitin Sawant is President – Diagnostics India with Trivitron Healthcare.